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January 20, 2023 Houma, La


Volunteers with the Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) added 150 Louisiana irises to their iris restoration project at the US Fish & Wildlife Service's Mandalay refuge near Houma, La. on January 19, 2023. The purpose of the project is to increase the number of I. giganticaerulea species of the Louisiana iris growing along the nature trail. The number of irises, which are native to the refuge, has been significantly reduced due to saltwater storm surges from past hurricanes.

The first significant iris planting at the Mandalay refuge boardwalk was organized by 4H Club coordinator, Cherie Roger and SeaGrant Area Agent - Southwest Region, Nicole Lundberg for the Terrebonne parish 4H Club Junior Leaders. The Greater New Orleans Iris Society donated the 300 irises. The planting took place on November 10, 2019.

The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative picked up the project in 2020 and added more irises that year and in 2021. Irises from the LICI iris rescue program have been used for all of their plantings.

Unlike many of LICI's iris restoration projects along area boardwalks, the irises have been planted along a nature trail at the Mandalay refuge. The photo was taken before Hurricane Ida blew down many of the trees along the nature trail in 2022.


The nature trail at the Mandalay refuge took a huge hit from Hurricane Ida, losing many trees. Since these fallen trees had opened up the tree canopy, allowing for more sunlight to reach down to the ground, LICI decided to plant more irises this year.

Volunteers with the Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative are seen on January 19, 2023 inspecting the damage to the Mandalay refuge nature trail caused by 2022's Hurricane Ida.


A group of LICI volunteers went out to check on the damage caused by Hurricane Ida to the Mandalay refuge nature trail on January 19, 2023. They brought 150 irises with them to plant. They discovered all of the irises that were previously planted survived and are doing well. Although the fallen trees did open up the tree canopy, the new sunlight hitting the floor of the forest caused brush, weeds, and new tree seedlings to quickly fill in those spots.

One clump of previously planted irises is shown in the photo that was taken on January 19th.


The volunteers found enough locations near previously planted irises to plant all 150 of the irises they brought with them.


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January 17, 2023 New Orleans, La.


The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) planted more Louisiana irises in their multiyear project along the shoreline of a lagoon at the Louisiana Children's Museum in New Orleans' City Park on January 15, 2023. Two volunteers from LICI planted 150 I. giganticaerulea species of the Louisiana iris that came from our iris rescue program.

Julia Bland, the Executive Director of the Louisiana Children's Museum in City Park when this photo was taken, was instrumental in having the Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative begin its iris restoration project in 2021 along the shoreline of a lagoon that is part of the museum property. The photo is of Julia standing next to the first iris that bloomed in April of 2022.


LICI's iris restoration project at the museum's lagoon is one of six where the group is planting rescued irises in public parks. The plantings in these locations allow the irises to be in locations where they can be seen by the public as they are blooming to help to achieve their goal of raising awareness of the Louisiana iris. The irises will also be accessible to LICI in future years to be thinned out so they can be used in their other projects. The irises plantings at these parks are typically done along the edges of ponds or lagoons, so they will not require any maintenance since they will be growing in a natural setting.

Photo: The irises from LICI's 2022 planting are doing well and are multiplying.


LICI's plan is to eventually have the entire lagoon shoreline covered with the I. giganticaerulea species of the Louisiana iris. It is located directly across the lagoon from the main entrance into the museum, which is located under a huge covered area that also has seating for the museum's cafe. The irises are also adjacent to a bridge that allows access to the museum from Roosevelt Mall Blvd. "It is a great site. The irises will be growing in a high-profile location where hundreds of people will be able to see them when they bloom, which will achieve the museum's and our goal for the project," says LICI's Gary Salathe.

Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative's volunteer, Kristy Wallisch, is seen with the newly planted irises she helped plant in LICI's iris restoration project at the Louisiana Children's Museum in New Orleans' City Park on January 15, 2023.



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January 6, 2023 Laplace, La.


The Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative (LICI) held its last iris rescue of the 2022-2023 rescue and planting season on Thursday, January 5, 2023. The Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life (ISJL), organized a visit of forty 8th-grade and high school students from Houston for a tour of Jewish life and history in New Orleans, which also included two half-days of service work with Common Ground Relief, a local non-profit that specializes in marsh restoration work. Common Ground Relief included LICI's iris rescue event in the planned activities Thursday morning for the group. In addition, a Boy Scout troop from Hammond, La came out to help as LICI volunteers.

The volunteers are shown getting ready to start work.


The site where the iris rescue was held is located in a rural area west of New Orleans an Interstate interchange. Its zoned for commercial development, is permitted, and is for sale. The owner has encouraged us to get the irises out to use in our iris restoration projects.

The volunteers are seen working hard digging irises.


Typically LICI plants irises from their summer and fall rescue events into containers at the group's iris-holding area in New Orleans, where they grow and strengthened up in containers for two or three months before being planted out into the swamps and marshes. However, since it is late in the season and the irises are in full winter growth mode, these irises can be planted directly into the Louisiana Iris Conservation Initiative's iris restoration projects, according to LICI's Gary Salathe. "We have plans to have all of the irises we have rescued at this event planted within two weeks," he said.

The group was able to collect 2,500 I. giganticaerulea species of the Louisiana iris. The irises were put into temporary storage at LICI's New Orleans iris holding area on Friday. They will be used in their iris restoration projects over the next few weeks.






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